Call to change privacy law on drivers' licences

A push is on to let trucking companies know the driving histories of present or prospective truck drivers

Call to change privacy law on drivers' licences
Call to change privacy law on drivers' licences
By Rob McKay | August 21, 2012

A push is on to let trucking companies know the driving histories of present or prospective truck drivers.

Taking up an idea that has gained prominence at recent industry gatherings, the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has written to transport ministers and Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT)
members seeking support for privacy reforms.

It wants Tribunal members to undertake further research on and ministers to propose "reforms privacy legislation which currently prohibits transport companies from accessing the driving records of their employees".

"ALC believes safety outcomes would be enhanced if transport companies were made aware of when a breach (such as speed, fatigue, load restraint etc) has occurred in one of their vehicles," ALC CEO Michael Kilgariff writes.

"This information is currently not provided to them due to privacy restrictions."

The ALC bolsters its argument with the experience of the United States, where it is federal law that companies are advised of offences involving their fleet and can have access to driver status and histories.

"This is one of the programs delivered by the national regulator in the United States – the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)," the letters say.

"The FMCSA publishes a ‘compliance score’ for every trucking company that falls within its jurisdiction.

"Major corporate freight customers, such as Wal-Mart, refuse to hire any company that falls below a certain threshold score and also ban sub-contracting to any firm that has an unsatisfactory score."

The ALC also points to the disparity between the treatment of truck drivers and drivers in the taxi industry.

It says that transport companies "need to be able to confirm whether employees and contractors driving their vehicles have an appropriate and valid heavy vehicle licence.

"While this may be imposed as a condition of employment, providing this information is prohibited under privacy legislation.

"In contrast, in NSW a taxi driver is required to have a taxi licence and a taxi licence is conditional on having a current driving licence.

"If the driver loses their licence they also lose their taxi licence and the taxi authority and the owner has access to that information."

The idea of tackling privacy provisions was given an airing by Victorian Transport Association (VTA)
CEO Neil Chambers at the ALC’s industry forum earlier this year and was "initiated by the Australian Road Transport Industry Organisation (ARTIO)
many months ago", Chambers says.

He had brought it up during discussion on the Tribunal as one way operators might gain from its deliberations.

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